Resurgent sales of large cars and sports utility vehicles have kept the Australian motor vehicle market on its record track towards the million mark this year.

Official sales figures for May released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that 88,597 vehicles were sold last month – an increase of 5,140 or 6.2% year on year.

The figures show that, for the year to date, the motor vehicle market is now up 32,567 vehicles or 8.4% over the same period of 2006.

May sales of family-sized large cars increased by 1,020 vehicles or 9.3% over the same month last year while upper large sales grew by 284 or 52.0%.

“It’s encouraging to see a consolidation in the large and upper large segments which reflects both the introduction of exciting new product and the response of brands to the competitive challenges of the market,” said new FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

Large cars sales are now up 5.4% so far this year, while the medium passenger car segment – which includes the Australian-made Toyota Camry – was up 6.6% in May and 5.0% year-to-date.

The SUV market was up 2,096 vehicles or 14.1% in May, driven in particular by new model activity in the SUV compact segment, which was up 1,643 or 26.3%.

“The resurgence in sales of SUVs and large cars demonstrates that family-sized vehicles continue to meet the preferences of a significant number of Australian consumers because they suit their lifestyles and transport requirements,” said McKellar.

“There remains a substantial and legitimate market for these kinds of vehicles – and there always will be.”

Sales of small and light cars levelled off in May, falling 1.0% and 0.3% respectively.

Toyota was the top-selling motor vehicle brand in May with 19,371 ahead of Holden (12,902) and Ford (9,571).

Year-to-date Toyota leads with a 21.9% share of the market ahead of Holden (14.8%) and Ford (10.5%).

Mazda (7.7%), Nissan (6.3), Mitsubishi (6.1) and Honda (6.0) have all gained market share over the same period last year.